Archive for February 20th, 2012
In this TED talk, photographer Garth Lenz shares shocking photos of Canada’s Alberta Tar Sands mining project:
Today I had the privilege of visiting the orchid show at the Missouri Botanical Garden. This is not the first year that I’ve visited (and see this post about Darwin and his orchids). I do plan to return next year too for the reasons you can see below.
[Click on the permalink for the full gallery of six photos from the 2012 Orchid Show]
The Democratic Stimulus Bill worked. Nearly 600,000 new private sector jobs were created and millions more jobs were not lost because of the funding to the states and the money put directly into the pockets of Middle Class consumers by the Democratic Stimulus Bill.
States were able to keep first responders like cops, firefighters and emergency medical technicians on the streets and teachers in their classrooms for the duration of the Stimulus. Now the funds are winding down and nearly gone and states are slashing payrolls which had been, ahem, “stimulated” by the federal dollars allocated to the various states See here, here and here.
For each of the past 23 months there has been private sector job growth totaling some 3.7 million jobs, says President Obama. Unemployment is now at 8.3 percent and trending downward from a high of just over 10% in September of 2009. Interestingly, government employment is down under Obama with mostly states and local governments having shed some 535,000 jobs. If states had been able to receive the extra monies from President Obama’s Jobs Act, it is likely the unemployment rate would be under seven percent.
After the debacle of the end of last year when Republicans took a beating for delaying the renewal of the payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans and the extension of unemployment benefits for some 2.5 million of the 15 million unemployed as well as the “doctor fix” on Medicare, Republicans cooperated with the President to extend those to the end of 2012.
President Obama has been less conciliatory towards Republicans and their intransigence in opposing every effort of the President to improve the economy. The President’s new found resilience in the face of steadfast opposition from Republicans has born fruit as many voters blame the Republicans for the economy and see Republicans as more of an obstacle to what is needed to keep the recovery on track. As a result, the approval ratings of President Obama have gone over 50% for the first time in eight months. It seems the only way backwards for Mr. Obama is if he is not partisan enough as voters flock to his banner in better numbers than 2008.
The Catholic bishops’ caterwauling over the proposed HHS rule on employees’ benefits is just more of the same type of anti-Obama shark hunting on the Mississippi that the bishops engaged in even before Obama was sworn as President. The issue then was the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) and it was “religious freedom” and “freedom of conscience” then too. All the same far right wing quasi-Catholics, pundits like George Weigel, decried the Obama administration then as now. Too bad there wasn’t even any such bill before the Congress at the time. Congress wasn’t even in session but, we Catholics heard it from the pulpits and pews and bishops all across the nation about the evils of Obama.
Thousands, maybe millions, of anti-FOCA postcards were sent to Washington. I sent one but, modified the text because I thought the bill would unconstitutionally usurp some states’ rights to regulate abortion under Roe v. Wade. Then, I found out there was no bill. Imagine my surprise as an Obama supporter.
Now, the Catholic bishops and their piling-on sycophants decry a “mandate” where no such thing exists at all. There is a proposed rule, which isn’t even in effect, that says that if an employer offers health insurance as a benefit to its employees, the insurance must cover contraceptive services. Strictly religious institutions are exempt from the proposed rule. No mandate, law, rule or regulation exists now or will exist that absolutely requires any Catholic employer to do anything against its conscience.
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I had posted on this Psyblog list before: “Why We do Dumb or Irrational Things: 10 Brilliant Social Psychology Studies.” I re-read it this morning. It would seem to be a good article for all people to read before voting. It’s important for each of us to know how our brains work before assuming that we are voting with “free will.” We often act on the basis of invisible social pressures. It’s not a good idea to simply declare that we are “rational” without examining these (and many other) vulnerabilities and biases. Here are the studies summarized in the Psyblog article:
- The Halo Effect: When Your Own Mind is a Mystery
- How and Why We Lie to Ourselves: Cognitive Dissonance
- War, Peace and the Role of Power in Sherif’s Robbers Cave Experiment
- Our Dark Hearts: The Stanford Prison Experiment
- Just Following Orders? Stanley Milgram’s Obedience Experiment
- Why We All Stink as Intuitive Psychologists: The False Consensus Bias
- Why Groups and Prejudices Form So Easily: Social Identity Theory
- How to Avoid a Bad Bargain: Don’t Threaten
- Why We Don’t Help Others: Bystander Apathy
- I Can’t Believe My Eyes: Conforming to the Norm
According to George Carlin, Americans don’t really have a Bill of Rights, and they are not really given to us by any god. Rather, we have a bill of temporary privileges that can be revoked at any time, and often are.